Business rates reforms head towards the long grass
All bets are off at the moment when it comes to what will happen on the political front – by the time I have finished writing this item we could well have a new Prime Minister.
Being that as it is, I will type fast as I quickly want to address what the current upheavals will mean – if anything – in the world of business rates.
Pretty much like the Brexit talks starting imminently, any progress promised by any of the parties in their manifestos is now toast. When it comes to how retailers and businesses in general have reacted to the election then “uncertainty” has figured in almost all of the soundbites I have come across.
The same applies to business rates. Before the election it was described as a system in crisis, not fit for purpose, etc. etc. and both main parties promised yet another review.
Fast forward a few days and it is so far down the agenda, it’s not even in the post scripts.
Regardless, retailer chiefs still cite it as one of their big worries. Theo Pathitis summed it by saying: “Nothing will get done on business rates because we have no one to do it and the Government will have no power.”
Brexit, security, LGBT rights, IndyRef2, even fox hunting have been mentioned as the Conservatives set about ripping apart their manifesto but I haven’t see a single line about business rates with the exception of the retail media.
What may be important to retailers and businesses seems worlds away from the corridors of Westminster right now.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is the latest big name to call on the government to extend the business rates holiday beyond April 2021.
The retail and hospitality sectors are mobilising the troops with dire warnings that thousands of business are at risk if the rates holiday isn’t extended beyond April 2021.
The pandemic has led to more than 50,000 extra appeals being lodged against business rates by Scottish firms alone.